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It’s Time To Get The Spirit

January 11, 2004 - National Women's Basketball League (NWBL) - Springfield Spirit News Release

By: Benny Fairchild

It was a bitterly cold day in Springfield, but inside of Cathedral High School in Springfield the action was hot. The 2004 edition of the Springfield Spirit got their season under way with an intra-squad exhibition that saw the blue team defeat the white team by a 83-61 margin.

The victorious blue team featured impressive performances from Kristen McCory who had 24 points and Stacey Clinesmith who had a double-double with 19 points and 10 assists. Another member of the blue team with a solid game was Cindy Blodgett who contributed 17 points. Their roster was rounded out with Tula Kofitsas, Yatar Kuyateh, and Andrea Garner.

While the game might have been a laugher, the white team got off to an impressive start with a 14-4 run that would be countered with a 18-4 run that would give the blue team a 24-18 lead.

The white team got off to an impressive start thanks in part to 4 assists from Brianne Stepherson in just seven minutes of play. The eighth minute would see Stepherson leave the game with a nose injury that would force her to miss the rest of the game. However she doesn’t plan on missing time, “we have tomorrow off to give me a day to get my face together,” she said.

Newcomer to the Spirit Tiffany Kyser led the way for the white team with a double-double that saw her bring down 14 boards in addition to her 17 points. Yaschico Stevens also had a solid game for white with 21 points. Nicky Valliers, Rita Williams, and Dianne Warner rounded out the white roster.

Although the game was an intra-squad scrimmage, the game was fierce and the competitive nature of this years team shown through. Although the absence of Sue Bird may hurt the team head coach Sal Verdi is confident with this year’s team, “Sue is a very talented player and we would love to have her, but we’re very happy with the team we have,” said Verdi.

The additions of Jennifer Butler, Stepherson, Stevens, Kyser, and Garner should have Spirit fans excited for the upcoming season. Butler was a second round pick in the 2003 WNBA draft. Verdi calls Garner the best kept secret in the NWBL, but following her 13 point, 13 rebound performance she is not a secret anymore.

Following the game was when the real action took place. More than 100 fans stuck around for true V.I.P. treatment with a meet & greet where the entire team and coaching staff signed autographs, and snapped pictures. Even “Big Girl” Kara Wolters was in attendance although she was unable to play she came through in the clutch for the fans and that is what the Springfield Spirit is all about.

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